The O. Zone

Double standard plagues Colorado Rockies -- the most exciting second-half team in MLB

By David O. Williams
Real AspenSeptember 11, 2010

Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will likely have to throw a no-hitter tonight against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks in order to have a shot at the National League Cy Young award.

His team-record 19th win and second no-hitter of the season (he pitched one earlier this season against the Atlanta Braves) might be enough to convince the East Coast baseball experts (ECBEs) that 19 wins, with half his starts coming at hitter-friendly Coors Field, is the equivalent of 25 wins for a big-market, sea-level team.

David O. Williams

Of course, since the advent of the humidor that keeps baseballs from drying out and therefore flying out of the ballpark the way they did for the first decade of baseball at Coors Field, the idea that Denver produces offensively skewed numbers is, well, offensive.

But the same ECBEs who discount the triple crown run by Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez because of the non-existent Coors Field factor refuse to credit Jimenez for pitching under such circumstances. Which is it, Coors is a really easy place to hit and a really tough place to pitch? Or is the other way around? It can't be both, can it?

Dave Krieger, the Denver Post's excellent sports columnist, did a great job of dissecting this double standard in Friday's paper. It's frustrating the Rockies can't get more credit for being one of the most exciting second-half teams in the National League three of the last four years.

For me, it's kept fall interesting when the Denver Broncos begin to dominate headlines during training camp. The out-of-proportion hype surrounding the local NFL team has been completely unwarranted once ski season kicks into full gear and the season-ending losing streak inevitably begins.

I think there's even less reason to be hopeful this season now that Broncos' coach Josh McDaniels has run off all the star players remaining from the Mike Shanahan era and replaced them with mediocre scrubs and overvalued draft picks. But hopefully he'll prove me wrong one of these days.

In the meantime, the Rockies are the most exciting pro sports team in town. The Nuggets mailed it in last season and exited in the first round of the playoffs, a constant theme during Carmelo Anthony's brief, underwhelming – and soon to be over – reign in Denver. The Avs overachieved and could be on their way back to the glory days – or at least some respect again in the NHL.

But the fact is that after a five-year run from 1996 to 2001, in which the Avs won two Stanley Cup and the Broncos two Super Bowl titles, it has been a bleak decade of pro sports futility in Colorado.

The only bright spot? The Colorado Rockies from 2007 to 2010 (let's forget about the 2008 season).

It's been the most satisfying run for me as a Colorado sports fan, because I feel personally invested in the Rockies.

I used to attend minor league Denver Bears and Zephyrs games at Mile High Stadium.

I was living in Denver and voted for the stadium tax that ultimately brought the MLB franchise to town and built Coors Field.

I was sports editor at the local paper in Vail when Eric Young Sr. came through on a barnstorming tour to tout the new franchise.

I was in the press box when EY led off with a homerun in the Rockies first home game in 1993.

I interviewed EY, Andres “Big Cat” Galarraga and other jubilant Rockies in the locker room after that game.

And now, 17 years later, with my oldest son an obsessed fan, I'm thrilled to see Eric Young Jr. asserting himself in the midst of the Rockies' latest improbable late-season run (eight straight wins and counting).

This run may ultimately fall short, but it's still been a highly entertaining ride. Much preferable to the Broncos doing it the other way around: teasing us with six wins to begin the season, then stumbling to 8-8 and missing the playoffs.

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